FROM THE 'DEEP' END: Lower ourselves for others

Eric Partin
Eric Partin

Have you ever wanted to just tell someone “Forget you!?” If you’ve ever watched an R-rated movie that’s edited for TV, you know what I’m talking about. They tell people “Forget you” a lot in those movies. If you’ve ever had a neighbor, a co-worker or someone in your family who seems like all they talk about is themselves, or all they care about is themselves, it makes you want to tell them “Forget you!” 

Back before I became a pastor I was a driver for UPS. Before we could go out on deliveries we had to make sure our shoes looked shined and clean, so there was a shoe shine area there where everyone would shine their shoes. One morning, I was bending down to shine my shoes and this foot appears in my vision. I hear this other driver say

“While you’re down there, put a little shine on these.” I look up and it’s this driver who is always kind of a jerk to me. He’s a guy who was the star football player in high school, got a scholarship to play college ball and then got injured his first year. Now he works at UPS, his dreams of playing pro ball are gone, so he likes to take his anger out on me, the non-jock surfer dude he works with.

Asking someone to shine their shoes seems so demeaning. You are literally putting someone lower than yourself. What’s interesting about the situation my co-worker put me in is that in the Bible, Jesus actually tells us to lower ourselves for others, and specifically  He tells us to wash other people’s feet. For some, that’s hard to swallow, but it was even harder to swallow in His time when feet were seen as the dirtiest part of the body. People wore sandals if they wore shoes at all, so to wash someone’s feet was to lower yourself to dirt status. It’s hard to understand in our culture where we heap lots of praise on winners and usually forget about the losers.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” The Bible says that John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for Jesus. He spent years telling people about the coming Messiah and had amassed a lot of followers. Once Jesus was there, all his work was kind of obsolete. Sometimes we have a hard time excepting that we have to give up the spotlight, but John understood the importance of  humility and putting Christ above yourself.  When one of his followers came to him and complained that no one was coming to them to be baptized anymore and were all going to Jesus, John said “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”  (John 3:29)

John understood that it wasn’t all about him. Just like a groomsman or a bridesmaid doesn’t make the wedding day about themselves and instead helps prepare the bride and groom, there is great joy and fulfillment in putting others first and humbling yourself before God.

Mother Teresa put it this way, “If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” There is actually freedom in practicing humility. When you take your focus off yourself and you put it on Jesus, you know that your value doesn’t come from your position, your finances or your status. You can serve and give to others freely because your stuff, your reputation and your ego doesn’t own you. If we want true fulfillment, then “He must increase and I must decrease.”

So that day at UPS when I was confronted by someone who was always putting me down, had his boot in my face and asked me to shine it, I could have easily said “forget you” and been completely justified. Instead I forgot myself and shined his shoes.

Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at